Renner U, Pagotto U, Arzt E, Stalla GK. Autocrine and paracrine roles of polypeptide growth factors, cytokines and vasogenic substances in normal and tumorous pituitary function and growth: a review. Eur J Endocrinol 1996;135:515–32. ISSN 0804–4643
In addition to the classical hormones, the production of numerous polypeptide growth factors, cytokines, vasogenic substances and neuropeptides by pituitary cells has been demonstrated. Expression of the corresponding receptors on pituitary cells enables these factors to influence growth and function of the pituitary by auto- or paracrine mechanisms. Thus, in addition to the external endocrine control of pituitary growth and function, an intrinsic intercellular communication network seems to be involved in the control of pituitary homeostasis. The cell-to-cell communication may be of importance for the pre- and postnatal differentiation of the pituitary, for the regulation of the cellular composition of the gland (by balancing mitosis and apoptosis and controlling angiogenesis) and for the adaption of pituitary function to altered physiological conditions (i.e. stress, pregnancy and diseases). Differences in the expression of or the response to the above-mentioned factors in pituitary adenomas indicate that these substances are of importance for pituitary tumorigenesis. Disturbances of auto-/paracrine mechanisms may not necessarily be involved in the tumor initiation processes, but they may play a crucial role in tumor progression. After the initial transformation, the clonal expansion of the tumor cell is dependent on its ability to escape either from the inhibitory action of growth suppressing factors or to develop an autocrine mechanism that allows autonomous growth. In summary, therefore, this review outlines the potential role of polypeptide growth factors, cytokines and vasogenic peptides as auto-/paracrine-acting substances in normal pituitary and pituitary adenomas.
Ulrich Renner, Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry, Clinical Institute, Department of Endocrinology, Kraepelinstr. 10, D-80804 Munich, Germany